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Let’s kick off a new year with a playful attitude. From tips for playdates at home to expert advice on why fun is a force for good

Hartbeeps delivers multi-sensory sessions for very young children with music and nursery-rhymes part of the playlist. Founder Sarah Godwin says: “It is both touching and humbling to see a tiny baby communicating intimately with their parents through music.”

“In our Hartbeep classes children are encouraged to explore in their own way. This is an unusual principle to be applied in a traditional music group setting. In the initial trials the results were a little chaotic, but we kept drilling down the formulas, the timings, the props, activities and songs. Little by little the sessions started to evolve and flow beautifully and spontaneously.”

Musical play sessions may boost babies’ cognitive skills and have a long-lasting impact on their learning, researchers say. A US study at the University of Washington looked at nine-month-old infants in regular play sessions focused on musical activities. They found it improved the children’s ability to process speech sounds as well as musical rhythms.

Steph Cockerel, a Hartbeeps Imaginator and Early Years expert, invites us to playtime in the Virtual Meet-Up.

“At the beginning of every class, we ask parents to shake off the grown-ups and journey down the rabbit hole into the children’s world. Why do we ask you to do this? Well, it’s because play is so important and research has shown that it’s just as important for parents as for the child. It reduces cortisol levels and increases emotional well-being.

As we play with our child we teach them that they’re valued which builds their self-esteem and their confidence. Through the playful interaction they also learn how to take turns. They learn how to trust, which will be useful for building relationships with people. As they get older they develop a sense of humour and they learn how to read facial cues. As we play alongside each other it reduces our stress and it makes us feel good as we have fun together.

Your baby doesn’t expect Beyoncé

One of my favourite Heartbeeps activities is ‘The Kissing Song’. Kissing is a really good way of bonding with your baby and it releases oxytocin. I can’t really sing but it doesn’t really matter. Your baby doesn’t expect you to be Beyoncé, they just love your voice. ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ is really good for building baby’s digestive strength We hold baby around the calves and take the knees in with a little bit of pressure. If you’ve got a baby who’s colicky this is a really great one to put in a nappy-change time.”

 

Find out more Positive Play Techniques from Hartbeeps at The Virtual Meetup right here: 

Play as they grow, from baby to toddler

Melanie Adkins, Educational Psychologist:

“Play encourages the release of some positive chemicals. These do great things for us. They can help to make children feel more psychologically strong. They can improve our immune system and help children to get ready for learning. These anti-anxiety chemicals can also modify traumatic experiences.

“Adults need to be playful just as much as children do. Remember what play felt like – how important it was to you when you were a child. A play tip includes, allowing children to lead and simply follow. It will show you what’s concerning them and the things that they are really worried about.”

Peter Gray, Psychologist:
“Even very small children enjoy playing with other children and they especially enjoy playing with children who are a little older than themselves and who can take the lead. Two two-year-olds or two three-year-olds can’t play together very well because they don’t really know how to negotiate and interact, but a two-year-old and a five-year-old play together very well because the older child knows how to bring the younger child into play and how to respond to the child in a way that they’re really playing together.”

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